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How Much Klout Do You Have, and Does It Really Matter?

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Chris S. Cornell
Chris S. Cornell

Recently, I’ve been seeing more and more people on Twitter making reference to their Klout score — that number between one and 100, that purports to tell the world just how much influence you have. Klout, the company, claims the score is “the measurement of your overall online influence”.

Just for fun, I decided check out the Klout score of a few different Twitter users, to see if I could learn anything. Westchester’s own Martha Stewart has a Klout score of 72.  Klout’s message to Martha, who has more than 2.1 million followers, is this: “You are a thought leader in your industry. Your followers rely on you, not only to share the relevant news, but to give your opinion on the issues. People look to you to help them understand the day’s developments. You understand what’s important and what your audience values.”

As a businesswoman, media personality, author and publisher, Stewart certainly possesses a high level of influence, particularly in areas of decor, crafting and cooking to name a few. I wondered how she would stack up against musician Rob Thomas.

Thomas, who also resides in Westchester, edges Stewart out with a Klout score of 74. With just over 208,000 followers, he receives the exact same “thought leader” message as Stewart. Is Thomas more influential than Stewart, I wondered? Probably in some areas, but not in others. I’m guessing that neither Stewart nor Thomas even knows or cares about their Klout score. They’re too busy writing music, publishing, supporting worthy causes, singing, making television appearances, and yes, actually influencing others.

Does Justin Bieber (Klout score 100) really have more influence than  President Obama (Klout score 90)? Well, I think the answer depends on what type of influence we’re talking about. Bieber undoubtedly has more influence over how teen-aged boys wear their hair — but I sincerely hope and really do believe that our president has more influence in other more important areas.

In some ways, bragging about one’s Klout score is like a football receiver boasting about his speed. Sure, speed is an asset, and an indicator, but what I really want to know is how many passes he’s caught (and how many he’s dropped), how many receiving yards he’s accumulated, and how many points he’s scored. And no one likes a bragger, anyway.

When it comes to Twitter — and any social media platform, for that matter — we should really focus on what it is we’re trying to accomplish, and then establish ways we can measure our results. Raising our follower counts is great, but wouldn’t it be even better if we could more accurately target the people we’re trying to reach?

There are many other Westchester folks with “respectable” Klout scores, including Dagmar Bleasdale (62); Chris Dessi (47); StacyKnows (59);  Linda Rey (54) and Eric Swensson (71). Each of these people has built an impressive audience, and each has one or more areas of true expertise.

Dagmar Bleasdale has established herself as an expert on breast-feeding issues, and as a leading mommy blogger, while Chris Dessi is an expert in the area of digital marketing. Comparing their levels of influence seems pointless. Linda Rey is an insurance professional with an amazing knack for networking, particularly within Westchester — while Eric Swensson is a pastor who works as a social media consultant for non-profits. Stacy Geisinger founded and manages the popular Stacy Knows blog. Each of these Westchester people has a different set of goals, and their audiences are far from identical.

And then there are a whole bunch great of Westchester folks with Klout scores in the 20s and 30s. Some of these people with lower scores are among my favorite Twitter users — including a few who provide me with some of the biggest laughs and some of the most helpful information. Sure, the Klout score is based on some significant metrics, but unless you’re really sure about what your goals are, relying on something as simple as a two-digit number to describe someone’s influence is misleading at best.

If you know of any social media-related event or website, or have any other information you’d like me to share in a future column, you can send it to me at chris@WestchesterSocialMedia.com. And as always, I encourage you to join the conversation taking place on the Westchester Social Media page I manage on Facebook.

Chris S. Cornell is the Director of Social Media at Thompson & Bender — a Westchester-based PR, advertising and marketing firm. He manages several online communities, and consults, speaks and writes about social media. He is also the owner of Cornell Gallery, a custom framing business in Pleasantville.

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